What Can I Do If My Kid Is Being Cyberbullied?
Online bullying, or cyberbullying, can be just as damaging as physical bullying. And while parents won’t be able to see the “injuries,” there are definite warning signs your child may show for this abuse:
- Reduced use of the computer, or other technology, even if s/he’s always enjoyed it before.
- May stop wanting to use their technology where it can be monitored.
- Hiding screens or turning off their device when you walk by so you can’t see what’s on the screen.
- Nervousness or jumpiness whenever an instant message, text, or email comes in.
- Alluding to bullying indirectly by mentioning the “drama” at school or commenting on how s/he has no friends.
- Not wanting to go to school or other activities, even if they’ve enjoyed them previously.
- Even if they attend school or activities, they may not be able to keep their concentration as much on activities they enjoyed previously.
- Becoming withdrawn.
The statistics on cyberbullying, or online bullying, are staggering.
According to DoSomething.org & their 11 facts about cyberbullying :
- Nearly 43% of kids have been bullied online.
- 1 in 4 has had it happen more than once.
- 70% of students report seeing frequent bullying online.
- Over 80% of teens use a cell phone regularly, making it the most common medium for cyberbullying.
- 68% of teens agree that cyberbullying is a serious problem.
- 81% of young people think bullying online is easier to get away with than bullying in person.
- 90% of teens who have seen social-media bullying say they have ignored it. 84% have seen others tell cyberbullies to stop.
- Only 1 in 10 victims will inform a parent or trusted adult of their abuse.
- Girls are about twice as likely as boys to be victims and perpetrators of cyberbullying.
- About 58% of kids admit someone has said mean or hurtful things to them online. More than 4 out of 10 say it has happened more than once.
- Bullying victims are 2 to 9 times more likely to consider committing suicide.
- About 75% of students admit they have visited a website bashing another student.
So what steps can parents take if they suspect their child is being cyberbullied?
- Start the process by talking with your child. A good conversation starter may be sharing a story about bullying in your own life or using a story from the news or something another parent told you. Make sure your child knows that you love them, they can trust you, and they can talk to you.
- If that doesn’t get the conversation started, exercise your right to check his/her device(s). You need to be able to see where your child’s been online and the history of what he’s deleted and/or tried to hide from you.
- Once you’ve confirmed that bullying is occurring, there are steps to take to put a stop to the bullying:
- Suggest to your child that s/he let the bullies know that you have access to her/his electronics: “I know this is crazy, but my mom monitors everything. I can’t promise what she’ll do if she sees this.”
- After this warning, help your child block the bullies on social media or any other access they have to message your child. Report each bullying attempt to the social media or app provider.
- Talk to the parents of the bully/ies. Let them know what’s going on and how it’s affecting your child.
- Reach out to your child’s guidance counselor or principal. Most schools or school districts now have anti-cyberbullying policies and protocols to help.
- If none of these steps work and/or the bullying is increasing, you may need to get law enforcement involved. Print out or save evidence of the bullying, in case you need to show it to police.
- If your child experiences any anxiety or depression because of the cyberbullying, consider getting them professional help. There are many options for emotional support for your child and you don’t have to try to do this alone.
Smart Girl Note: If you’d like to check out other articles for parents, please check out this page on our site: https://www.smartgirlsociety.org/blog/category/parents-and-educators.
Smart Girl Society, Inc., is an Omaha-based nonprofit working to educate and inspire smart & confident girls, women, & families. Through educational workshops, civil outreach programs, and technology & social media research, we work with girls, parents, & educators to promote authenticity on social media and in real life. We educate how to remain safe on social media and how to avoid becoming a target of sextortion. We also inspire action for students to focus on their personal brand development, leadership, educational opportunities, and healthy social skills. Interested in learning more? Check us out!